Gema Pearl – True Blue
Southstar Multimedia LLC
CD: 13 Songs, 51 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, All Original Songs
At the beginning of certain movies, a brief disclaimer appears: “Based on a true story,” or “Inspired by true events.” Translated, this means: “Based on a true story, but in the meantime we exercised significant creative liberties. This isn’t a documentary.” The new album by Grammy-nominated artist Gema Pearl, True Blue, might more accurately be called Inspired by the Blues. It contains thirteen original songs based on the blues, but not adhering too closely to the traditional sounds of the genre. Nevertheless, it’s a great rock CD, full of high energy, powerhouse vocals, and a concert-arena atmosphere. Sure, Gema does love songs (“Pretty Please”), but more often, she launches into anthems about the innate power of women (“Man Oh Man,” “Crazy Like a Fox,” “Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down”). She’s certainly got the pipes for it. Pearl knows how to project, letting her voice carry over the zesty instrumentation rather than letting it get drowned. In time, she could be the next Alannah Myles, if not Janis Joplin.
Oddly enough, this was not Gema’s first career choice. Slated to become a Dallas cheerleader, runway model and ballet dancer, the high school ingénue had a scintillating future in her grasp. However, a catastrophic car wreck crushed her former aspirations. The prognosis? Devastating.
With her boots firmly planted in Lone Star grit, she spent excruciating days in physical therapy. Her body-based dreams shattered, she learned to find solace in her voice, filled with soul and laced with a whisper of whisky. The fledgling filly spent endless, desolate hours in front of the bedroom mirror emulating her beloved divas. Along with steadfast support and inspiration, her near-death experience became the catalyst to plow forward into a future in music.
Accompanying Gema (all lead and background vocals, naturally) are Lee Brovitz on bass, guitar, percussion and background vocals, and John McLane on keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars, saxophone, trombone, and backing vox. Special guest stars include Rick Derringer, Jonathan Edwards, John Mameli, Arthur Neilson, Shane Theriot, and Buddy Whittington.
“Rock This House” explodes like a firecracker, establishing a stadium vibe with the sounds of a cheering crowd. It’s meant to get people dancing right from the get-go, and it delivers. “Kiss My Texas” is a growling-guitar warning for anyone who dares to cross Gema, with the state’s name having heavy emphasis on the last syllable. Number three, a blistering blues-rock shuffle, informs us that Pearl has an “Ex To Grind.” “He loved me, loved me not…Revenge is best served hot. I’ll take my parting shot.” Two words: Uh-oh. “Pearl’s Blues,” the only traditional track on the album, is a stunner. The musicians pull out all the stops and never yield, their emotion and instrumentation relentless. “No Mo’ Mojo” puts a funky wah-wah pedal to good use, featuring Shane Theriot. Gema’s hard-bitten vocals are also put to their best effect. “Feels Like Rain,” a lovely ballad, relaxes us a bit before the final anthem brings our mood back up.
True Blue may not be true blues, but in the blues-rock subgenre, it’s a prime contender!